LAST UPDATED: 2 December 2022

Facebook Ads I: Strategy, Funnels, Campaigns, Targeting

EventGrow's Andy Reilly shares his tips for planning and executing effective campaigns for marketing your race with Facebook Ads.

Andy ReillyAndy Reilly

Facebook Ads I: Strategy, Funnels, Campaigns, Targeting

When it comes to spending money on marketing races, Facebook Ads remains the most popular choice for race directors and professional race marketers, regardless of race size or type.

So how do you make the most of the opportunities Facebook Ads has to offer for marketing your race in 2022 and beyond?

We’re going to be going over all that in a special two-part show on Facebook Ads with the help of my guest, EventGrow CEO, Andy Reilly. You may remember Andy from the very very popular marketing psychology episode - that was episode 25 back in February  - and he’s with us again today and for our next podcast episode to really break down every aspect of Facebook Ads as it pertains to race marketing. 

Today, for part one of the discussion, we’re going to set the scene by looking at Facebook marketing strategy, understanding sales funnels, planning and structuring ad campaigns, and mastering audience targeting. And in our next episode we’re going to delve into some more advanced topics around ad creatives, ad performance monitoring and optimisation, and the very important, highly-converting area of ad retargeting.

In this episode:

  • Why Facebook ads still offer the best bang for your marketing buck (even if the landscape has become more challenging for advertisers)
  • Facebook ads vs Google ads vs Twitter ads vs Tik Tok ads
  • Understanding ROAS (return on ad spend) and customer lifetime value
  • Integrating Facebook ads into your sales funnel
  • Picking the right landing page for your Facebook ad (website? registration page? Facebook event page?)
  • Boosting posts vs using Facebook's Ad Manager
  • Picking a campaign objective for your ad: conversions vs traffic vs reach/awareness
  • Structuring and naming your campaigns, ad sets and ads
  • Choosing between automatic and manual ad placements
  • Pros and cons of using the dynamic creatives
  • Using demographics, location and interests to target the right audience for your race
  • Avoiding the pitfalls of over-targeting

Many thanks to our podcast sponsors, RunSignup and Racecheck, for supporting our efforts to provide great, free content to the race director community:

RunSignup are the leading all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events. More than 26,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. Find out more at

Racecheck can help you collect and showcase your participant reviews on your race website, helping you more easily convert website visitors into paying participants, with the help of their Racecheck Review Box. Download yours for free today at

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Episode transcript

Panos  2:19  
Andy, welcome back to the podcast!

Andy  2:21  
It's great to be back.

Panos  2:23  
Well, thanks a lot for coming on. For listeners who are not familiar with our older episodes, you were on the podcast a couple of months ago, and we were talking in episode 25 about marketing psychology. I can tell you that has been one of the most popular podcast episodes we've had. It's really an amazing episode. If you just stumbled into this Facebook Ads podcast, I seriously recommend you to go back and listen to the "Understanding Marketing Psychology" podcast we did with Andy as well. You're back with us today to discuss another very popular topic -Facebook ads. We've been meaning to do this for a while. Before we get right into it, can you please remind our listeners a little bit briefly about where you're based and what you do in the industry?

Andy  3:09  
Absolutely. Well, first of all, thanks for having me back. Apparently, I did something right - for you to have me back on - in the previous one. It's also great to hear people enjoyed the marketing psychology. I get fired up about that stuff. If you have a chance - like Pano said - go back and listen to that one because that's really the framework for a lot of different things that we do in running campaigns on any platform. However, today, we'll talk just about one platform, which is Facebook Ads. My name is Andy Reilly. I work at EventGrow. We're a marketing agency that helps endurance events grow their participation through ads and social media. We're in San Diego. We've been running it for about five years. We have some great clients we work with like San Francisco Marathon, Buffalo Marathon, and Hospital Hill Run. If you're interested - at any point in time - to chat, then just email me at, and I'd love to chat.

Panos  4:01  
Awesome. And give us, like, a short status report on where the industry is, from your point of view, I guess, working with clients.

Andy  4:09  
What we're seeing for most of our clients - in fact, there are really only a few outliers - we're seeing a couple of trends. One common trend we're seeing is registrations are down about 20% from 2019. We kind of looked at 2019 as the "last normal year" before the pandemic. The hope was that, by this year, we would be seeing trends that would lead us towards believing or seeing that, at the end of this year, we would kind of see a "2019 bounce back". However, that has not quite been the case. Most events have been down 20% in sales and registrations. On the good side of things, the pace of registrations has picked up from the previous two years. So, in a way, it's much better than the previous year and much much better than the year before that with the pandemic. However, it's not quite back to 2019. The second biggest trend that we're seeing for all events is people are waiting to sign up longer. So they're waiting further down into the registration cycle to sign up. So, the 5K and the shorter distances are getting signups much later and the half marathons are getting signups much later. We're working with a marathon right now and, typically, the peak signups come in about three or four months out. We're seeing people sign up for marathons as early as - or as late as - two months or even a month out, or a couple of weeks out for marathons. So, those are the two big trends. It's 20% down and waiting to sign up, unfortunately.

Panos  5:40  
Yeah. For marathons, I mean, obviously - perhaps not obviously - I guess people are training without registering first because you can start training for a marathon two weeks out, but people are still holding back from actually registering.

Andy  5:53  
Exactly. Yeah. They're delaying their signup decisions. This isn't a shock, given a lot of the geopolitical and macroeconomic things going on. Obviously, the US is looking like it's pushing into a potential recession. So there are a lot of different factors why people aren't pulling their chequebooks out - or their money out - and making decisions for anything for that matter. So I think a lot of that applies to us as well here, and we're seeing some of that.

Panos  6:21  
Okay. So we're going to be talking about Facebook Ads today. Actually, we're going to be talking about Facebook Ads on our next podcast episode as well because we discussed this a little bit offline and Facebook Ads is just a big part of most race directors' marketing day-to-day, and there are so many things that people are interested in knowing around this topic. So we discussed and decided to break this down into two parts. Today, we're going to do part one, where we're going to be looking at some basic concepts around Facebook Ads. We're going to be talking about sales funnels, but we're going to be talking in the context of Facebook Ads about sales funnels. And we're going to be looking at ad campaign targeting and a few things around creatives. Then, in our next episode, we're going to be tackling some more advanced topics around budgeting, monitoring, performance, and retargeting. So let's get right to it. So Facebook Ads, as I said, is one of those paid marketing channels that most people are familiar with. They've changed over the last few years. Are they still relevant? Why should people still invest in Facebook ads?

Andy  7:42  
Facebook Ads are absolutely irrelevant in today's world. When we think about Facebook-- well, first of all, Facebook changed their overall business name to Meta, as most of you might know. Meta is responsible for several platforms - Facebook being one of them - including Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. So they have a portfolio of companies. But today, we'll obviously just be talking about Facebook Ads, so I'm just going to refer to them as Facebook Ads. I'm not going to use the term Meta, but it's worth pointing that out. That was kind of Mark Zuckerberg's push to try to armour himself for the metaverse, which is really where a lot of things are moving. I'm not going to get into that, but it's worth mentioning that there are changes that have been made in the last year and a half. But Facebook Ads are still relevant today even given the privacy issues and different things that we've we've seen and dealt with. With Facebook, it has close to 3 billion users. People spend the most time on Facebook in relation to or in comparison, I should say, to any other social platform today. So, about 33 minutes a day on Facebook is what people spend. So you have a combination of "People who spend the most time there" and "Most people are on there". That combination makes it really one of the best apps to be on for marketing - that's still the case. Another point is, especially for races, the 35-to-54 demographic is strongest on Facebook - they're the largest user base representation on Facebook. So a lot of questions I get are, "Should I just be on Instagram?" Well, Instagram is great - also owned by Facebook. The user base for that is primarily 25 and under. The largest user base for that is primarily 25 or under. So if the question is-- and the answer is typically yes for running and triathlon and endurance races. The 35 to 54, which is I'm imagining is a large portion of your customer base, is on Facebook. In fact, that's where they're spending most of their time is on Facebook, whereas your younger user base is a little bit more on Instagram and Tiktok and some other places. Then, the last thing is Facebook has hands-down the best AI ad technology on their platform. So they have the best deep intelligence around where ads should be showing to get the best conversions. They provide us the best tools to get the best return on investment with our ad spend. They've been doing it for close to 10 years. So these tools have really built themselves out. It's one of the reasons why they're a public company, frankly. So the combination of those things - the amount of time they spend, it's their favourite social platform, 35-to-54, and the fact that there are so many great tools - today on 2022 makes it really the best platform to market on.

Panos  10:29  
Is it fair, though, to say-- and I get this feeling from comments we get in our race directors group on Facebook, is it fair to say that advertising on Facebook, basically, is not as good as the good old days and that it used to be more profitable, easier to reach people and, basically, competition has picked up quite a lot over the last few years?

Andy  10:55  
Yes, that's not only a fair statement but that's also verified. Since Apple made their iOS update - I think it was a couple of years ago now - it seems like Facebook was not able to really use a lot of their retargeting tools. So what that did was drove the ad cost up - the cost per acquisition and the cost to acquire customers went up, and it has been up and stayed up. So if you're comparing Facebook Ads in terms of cost-effectiveness today versus that pre-update a couple of years ago, then yes. You're probably not too happy with the fact that you're paying, 20%, 30%, or 40% more to acquire the same customer - that has been the case, yes. However, even with that change, we've still seen pretty good performances with most of our customers out of Facebook Ads. But yeah, it's definitely a lot more difficult to drive a sale.

Panos  11:48  
So just to give people - particularly people who haven't tried out Facebook ads at all - just an idea of the concept of return on marketing spend and return on investment, for something like Facebook-- and this is going to be a question that needs lots of qualification and "Depends on this. Depends on that". Particularly for a high-level professional like yourself, what percentage of entry fee spend or what absolute amount of dollars would you expect to pay in ads, in order to generate more registrations for a race? Explain to people the whole concept around return on marketing spend and then just go to some very high-level numbers of what you'd expect to get out of Facebook Ads.

Andy  12:39  
First of all, Facebook Ads, as I mentioned before, is consistently the number one or number two performing ad for all the paid ad spend that we do. So it is cost-effective if you're managing it correctly. Running Google or search ads is our other one that does really well. So I mentioned two of them - they're up there. Moving on to typical ROI and what you want to look for, there are a couple of numbers that we manage, that we really look at very closely. The first one is a marker of how effective your marketing is in terms of driving a sale. So you could look it as, like, the cost-effectiveness of your marketing or the quality of your advertiser or yourself if you're advertising, and that's called Return On Ad Spend. The acronym is ROAS - Return On Ad Spend. What that is, for every dollar you spend in marketing, how many dollars return in sales? So if your Return On Ad Spend is three, that means you spent $1 on ads and you drove $3 in sales. So you could call a three Return On Ad Spend. I could also say that's a 300% return. Now you obviously have to look at things like your net revenue and stuff like that to really factor out the perfect ROAS, but that's a number we look at very very, very closely inside of Facebook while we're running a campaign. The other number is we look at what does it cost for us to drive a sale, and that number is something to keep an eye on. It's different for every type of event. Let me start with ROAS. What is a good ROAS and what should we shoot for, maybe? Well, for some businesses, a good ROAS could be one. That means you spend $100 and you acquired a customer, right? In our business, we will typically want to see a minimum of a two or a three. These numbers used to be much higher by - not like a three or six. A couple of years ago before the update, they used to be higher. So we want to shoot for two or three. For triathlon and multisport events, right now we're seeing around a two. It's a little bit lower than we had hoped. Okay, so that means you're getting a 200% return for your spend and some people will accept that. That's acceptable. Some people have higher goals or want to want to shoot for higher. For the running industry, we typically see closer to a three Return On Ad Spend or 300% return, and that is probably a good target for you. If you're just getting into Facebook Ads, you kind of want to start by setting a two or three, and you want to hit those numbers and then you can start to move up from there. Then, for more experienced advertisers or events that have marketed on Facebook, we want to shoot higher than that - a five or a six. For some of our clients, we're currently getting six. The highest we used to get was, maybe, close to a 10, but that was pre-iOS update. So if you are getting a 600% return on your ad spend or a six ROAS, you are a very effective marketer in my view because, in other businesses and other industries, you're making quite a bit of money, or I would say you're profitable if you're making that type of return on your ad spend. So to kind of recap, where you want to start is a two or three. Or really where you want to start is to make your money back, right? So start at a one, then two or three is where we could be your goal range. Then, once you've established yourself, try to shoot for a five or a six, and use that as a marker. 

Panos  16:12  
Okay. You said earlier that that's probably the highest return you get out of all the paid channels out there. Do you have a feel for how that compares, for instance, to things like - well, you mentioned Google ads - Twitter, TikTok or even off social media channels? I guess those have a Return On Ad Spend as well - people doing email marketing campaigns, putting out banner ads, and all that kind of stuff. Just give people an idea of essentially the cost-effectiveness of Facebook compared to other things they could be doing.

Andy  16:45  
Yeah. I should mention that email marketing is not a paid advertising channel - I just want to clarify that. When I think about paid advertising channels, I didn't lump it in here. Let me just talk about that real quick. Email marketing is undoubtedly your best return on investment channel. You're going to get the most return from your email marketing. So before you really spend a tonne of time on paid ads, that's a house that you want to clean up that you really want to figure out. I would spend most of my time as a marketer on that channel, omaking sure that you're testing subject lines, and doing a lot of different things there. So that's number one. Then, once you kind of get really good at that channel, then you move over to this paid ad universe or "I have to take money out and give it to a platform and then hope they drive me sales" universe, which we're in. So Facebook ads we're talking about-- Google search ads is actually where we get our highest ROAS, and that's not necessarily a shocker because you think about when you search a term or a brand term like the London half marathon or London Marathon, typically they're going to be promoting that brand term and it's going to pop up first in Google. So they're going to generate a click right there, and that click turns into a conversion - which typically does - because people want to click what's the first down on Google. They don't want to go down the list. So if you're running an ad, you're gonna get that first click which, then, you will get the conversion, and that typically drives the Return On Ad Spend up for the Google campaigns. But that's an area where we see pretty good ROI. Then, we're just started testing stuff at TikTok, so I don't really have great return numbers on that. It hasn't been amazing, but it's a testing ground that we're trying out. Twitter hasn't been a big converter in terms of just raw sales conversions for us. It has been a better conversation and an engagement starter. So creating conversations around posts that we're already doing and driving people to the website, Twitter's really good at, but we haven't seen great conversion opportunities over there. Maybe getting a one ROAS over there. For most clients, it's under that - well, at least, from what we've seen. So we're continuing to test stuff. You want to obviously try all those other platforms, but email is going to be the top one you want to figure out. Then I'd move over to Facebook and Google and go from there.

Panos  19:08  
Yeah. We have a great episode, actually - a very recent one - on email marketing with Hollie Light, if people want to go back and listen to that with some great tips on, as Andy said, cleaning up your house on email marketing before you go into Facebook Ads. Just to actually clarify something - we're going to move into sales funnel in a sec - when we're talking about ROAS, when we calculate the return, you said it's important to sort of net out costs and other bits and pieces to actually see what dollars you're getting net, but are you calculating lifetime value for the new customer you're acquiring or are you just calculating it on the basis of this one registration - the first registration - that I get them to sign up for?

Andy  19:47  
Through these Facebook campaigns, we're calculating just the raw Return On Ad Spend for that particular campaign. I know it has the specific ID for that user so it might be able to, but we haven't really tracked that on Facebook. That's something that you'd want to track within your CRM because that has the historical data. So if you can pull that number out then I would absolutely track that because what Facebook does allow you to do is it allows you to upload a list of your customers, which we'll talk about later, with lifetime value. So you can actually target a list that has more value to you, and Facebook can go out there and reach those people. So to answer your question, no, not within Facebook, but within the platforms and the CRMs that allow us to actually pull that metric out - we're doing that on the back end.

Panos  20:37  
Right. Because my question, I guess, was more to make sense of why-- even if you get an ROAS of one, it still makes sense for you to do that because, yes, you're spending $1 and you're getting $1 registration fees for this signup, but having a new customer in your business and in your ecosystem is not going to be worth just $1 long term. I mean, they may spend more money, they may be a repeat participant or something, so it makes sense to even get them on one ROAS that just breakeven for the first transaction.

Andy  21:11  
I think that's a great point. Because for folks that aren't going to be able to come up with that calculation, which honestly is most people because it's difficult to do that and you have to have the tools and the CRM to be able to pull lifetime value out-- your point is well taken. In speaking to the entire audience here, understand that our customer lists obviously are really our everything. Our customer lists and lifetime value is critically important. Like, calculate your return rate. On average, I think the industry has a 38% rate of return. So 38% of your folks come back to do your race year after year. So if you acquired a new customer, then that in itself kind of gives you an idea of how valuable even just one new customer is. If you did your return rate on a two-year rolling basis, three-year rolling basis, or four-year rolling basis, how many people come back over time? So you can start to look at "Alright, if I get 38% of my customers back year after year", then you can start to calculate on the back of a napkin that there is a legitimate lifetime value for this particular customer and you can even start to calculate or do some calculations to figure out what that might be. But this is an important point because you're so right. If you are acquiring customers and you need to drive new sales or new customers, doing it at a breakeven rate is still something of value to you in the longer term. That season that year might be tough because your P&L is saying, "Well, we only got $100 back from our sales. We didn't even make money". However, you did acquire a customer and that's worth XYZ or whatever that lifetime value is.

Panos  22:55  
So, if you have been using Facebook Ads to market your race, you know that one of the most important things to keep track of is revenue attribution, which is to say, being able to tell how many conversions - that is, race registrations - you get from the money you spend on Facebook ads. 

Now, tracking conversions from Facebook can be done with the help of the Facebook Pixel, which is a little bit of code that Facebook provides that you have to add to your website to be able to track what actions Facebook users clicking on your ads take on your website. But what happens when people register off your website on your registration platform?

When your registration platform is RunSignup, there’s nothing to worry about. Because you can easily install your Facebook Pixel to all pages of your custom RunSignup website from your RunSignup race director dashboard. And after you do that, RunSignup will send Facebook all the right event data Facebook needs to correctly attribute registrations to the right Facebook ad campaign. 

What’s more, if you also fundraise through your race, RunSignup will also track and send to your Facebook Ads account data about your race donations, so you can accurately link not only registrations but also donations back to individual Facebook ad campaigns.

Of course, like with all tools on RunSignup, you get all this absolutely free with your standard RunSignup race director account, and you can learn more about this and other amazing RunSignup features available to you by visiting One of the many many reasons over 26,000 events are using RunSignup’s industry-leading technology to take their races to the next level.

Ok, let’s get back to the episode. Next up - sales funnels…

Okay, let's switch gears a little bit and talk about sales funnels. Going back to the discussion we had about marketing psychology, I know that you as a professional marketer feel quite strongly about not talking about Facebook Ads in isolation - which is how most people would approach Facebook Ads, right? Lots of race directors who do that themselves go out and think, "Oh, I need to put out an ad". But an ad is basically just one piece into a puzzle of how you're trying to get people from Facebook to register for your race. So that journey-- just to describe it to people, what does it look like? Or what should it look like for a well-thought-through ad campaign?

Andy  25:29  
When I think about an advertising campaign, I think about the channels that we would use to execute that campaign, which should all work in concert and timing with each other. So let's start by using a price increase. Alright. So if we have a price increase at the end of the month, our recommendation is to use each and every channel that we have at our disposal to be able to push that out. Why? Well, we talked about in our marketing psychology show - which you should check out - why price increases get people to sign up. There's the psychology behind them - there's loss aversion and things like that. So at the end of the month, the price increase is coming. What do we do? How do we get it out there? We recommend you send at least three emails. This might seem like a lot, but we've tested a lot of this. Three emails in the week of the price increase - one on the day of the price increase, one four days before, and one seven days before. Now, in addition to that, we're going to be running Facebook ads for that price increase. If we're running ads on Twitter or any other platform, we're going to be running them there as well. Now, how long do we run those for? The typical minimum amount of time I would suggest running a Facebook ad will be for two weeks. You can run it for a week - that's okay. However, it takes time for Facebook to understand your audience, put the ad out there, and say, "Oh, it's working over here with this audience. It's working over here, so let's optimise it." So two weeks, I find, is a sweet spot. It's the minimum amount of time that we like to use to run Facebook ads. In addition to that, for price increase, specifically, we'll typically do a 14-day Facebook ad with a price increase messaging, pushing them towards, in this case, either the registration page - we can talk about where we go later - or the website. So when you think about the sales funnel, only 20% or 25% of your audience opens up the email - that's typically the open rate for emails. So 80% of your audience or so isn't seeing that price increase message. That's why it's important to promote this on Facebook. In addition, only about 1% or 2% of your total audience sees your Facebook posts, which is crazy. You think about that. When Facebook made that change to where it's not like the old days anymore and you have to pay to reach people, that's true. So, unless you promote your post either through boosting or Facebook ad, which we'll also talk about in a sec, your audience isn't seeing that. They're not seeing the message. It's getting lost. Email gets lost. I love email, but it very much gets lost. So when you think about the sales funnel and really a marketing campaign, you want to make sure you're utilising all of your channels to get out the same message around the same time to really have the best effectiveness and saturation into the market. So Facebook really is an extension and a way for us to do that. Like I said, for price increases, we're going to run those for two weeks into each event. We kind of have a template for between emails and Facebook ads and the timing of all those things and how they work together. In terms of the sales funnel, Facebook ads can be the top of the funnel message. They can be the middle or really the bottom. If it's new audience or new people, then it's gonna be kind of the top of the funnel, and that's for the new customer who hasn't seen your race yet and they discovered it through your Facebook ad. Now that they're in your ecosystem, because they went to your website, maybe you collected an email. And now, they've joined a new audience that you created like "People that visited my website but didn't buy from me", which is something you can create on Facebook, or you could be running an ad that's retargeting people that you already know are customers. So that would kind of be the middle or bottom of the funnel. In that particular ad, I would drive them right to the registration page - I wouldn't ask to go into the website - because they've already signed up with you before. I look at top of the funnel for new customers for Facebook, kind of middle of the funnel, extending price increase messages, and then the bottom is "They've checked out. They're our loyalty customer. They're ready to go", you just need to get them that registration link. So you can use it for all steps of the sales funnel. But I think the first point is probably more important for race directors. Think about Facebook as an extension of what your other campaigns are already doing so that you make sure your actual whole audience sees it because they're not going to be seeing it fully in email.

Panos  29:59  
Yeah, there's so much to unpack there. I mean, my impression is that when most race directors experiment with Facebook ads, they use it mostly as a top-of-funnel tool. Basically, they're going out there, they're using all the audience sliders here and there and interest-based stuff, and they're saying, "Show my ad to runners within 50 miles of my race" and that kind of thing. I think most people start off there. That top-of-funnel tool-- as you said, the idea is to get people a little bit more familiar with your race as a concept. For something like that, would you be taking people back to the website to, like, event information or race Information page? 

Andy  30:42  
Yeah, ideally, if it's the top-of-funnel and they don't know who you are - I talked about this all the time - if they're new to you, they need to kind of "see your profile page", so to speak. Like, if you're dating somebody, you need to kind of check out what they're about online. So I would send them to the website. You really want to create a great experience for that new person that you're kind of dating. You would actually provide the information that you would think they would most be looking for. So, they're looking for things like testimonials or race reviews, course information, maybe a discount code, maybe not a discount code. So this comes down to how you structure your website, but I would send the top-of-funnel folks directly to your website. I would never send them directly to registration because they need to know more about you.

Panos  31:26  
Exactly. And one of the pet peeves that I hear quite a lot from people is when you get someone who doesn't know anything about your race on to your website, just include stuff like race date and some basic stuff that people often leave out - it gets really frustrating for people to, like, navigate around and find those things for themselves. Like step into the shoes of someone who sees your race on Facebook for the first time through an ad - nice, creative, you've nailed that bit - and then when you take them back to your site, have that information there. People don't have much patience and they're not going to just start looking for it themselves - they're just going to drop off.

Andy  32:02  
You've seen that, Panos. It's so frustrating when you're-- obviously, I'm biassed because I run a race calendar and I always look for what, when, where, and if not in the top of the fold in the first five seconds, you're like, "Why? Why, guys?" So yeah, for runners, that's just such a simple tip. Put the when and the where of the event right at the top in the hero image so I don't even have to try to find it. Then, by the way, put the registration button up there too. A lot of events actually won't have the registration button within the top or it's not clear, and that's a huge conversion mistake. So even just those three things right there would help your conversion rates big time.

Panos  32:45  
Exactly. And then, to your point, which I think is also very important around middle-of-the-funnel - basically, using Facebook ads as a complement to your email campaigns is also very important. So at that level, you're speaking to people who know about your brand. They're on your email marketing list. But as you say, you're using Facebook as a way to amplify the fact that the largest percentage of those people who receive your emails won't open it and seeing that same message land in their feed is something that you need to be doing. There, you're speaking to a much smaller audience, I guess, but these people are a little bit more warmed up to your message. Then, those people with a price increase campaign, as you said, which you would send out both over email and a Facebook campaign. What would be your landing page of choice for something like that? Would you then take people back to your website or would you land them directly into the registration page?

Andy  33:46  
Well, it comes down to the audience you're targeting. Let's say I create a Facebook ad for that specific instance that you mentioned and I'm targeting runners that have run with me in the past or people that have engaged on my Facebook page. If I don't believe - in that situation, based on that audience - that they need much more selling to, then I'll try to always send them to that registration page, and I'm not talking about the registration event page where it gives them more information. I'm talking about the actual signup page, where they're in the signup flow. If that audience is being mixed with new people or new interests then, to play it safe, I would use your website. The rule of thumb is "Do you like your website or do you have an optimised website?" If you take a look at your site and you're not that confident in it, I would probably send them to the event registration page because you probably have conversion problems and there are going to be issues. Now, if you like your website, if it's optimised, you have your register button up there and you think it does a good job based upon the metrics you're using to get people to where they need to go then you can use that, but use your best judgement. You kind of know your assets better than other people. So I would use is your best judgement in the case if your website isn't great or it's great. If it's somebody that knows us, the rule of thumb is if they've registered before and this is a conversion-based message, I'm going to send them to the registration page. If they haven't registered or they're new or potentially new, I'll send them to the website.

Panos  35:18  
Right. And we should also say, I guess, these days with all the new technology that's coming out of registration platforms, that distinction between a race website and a separate registration platform gets a little bit blurred because I see, particularly, on platforms like RunSignup who have very well developed custom websites that you can use that people-- as you say, even if they do have a website, they decide - rather than use their own websites event information page - to send people on the RunSignup event information page because those websites are a lot more optimised for conversions and they have the registration button front, centre, and everywhere. So it's a good point to flag to people that they need to be thinking about how effective their website is and whether it actually makes sense to add some of that information that's on the website on the registration page itself - or on the registration website, I should say, because it's not a single page anymore - and be sending people there instead.

Andy  36:18  
Yeah, it's a great point. RunSignup is - since you brought them up - a great example of a company that has done a very good job of designing their event registration page. For a lot of the smaller customers that we do some work in helping them optimise their setups, we'll actually recommend that they use that page over their website. So do a little bit of analysis and look at their website, and then we know what we get with RunSignup and some of these other partners on their event registration page. In some cases, for some smaller events, you are better off using the event registration page. Even though it's not perfect and you can't perfectly design it the way you want, in a lot of cases, it's better set up and optimised than folks' websites. I can't just say this across the board - it's individual to each individual and company - but that is an option that I would definitely use if you just don't feel very confident about where your website's at.

Panos  37:17  
In the context of thinking through Facebook ads as a campaign tool and getting serious about using Facebook as a paid marketing channel, what's your take on boosting posts? If you go around the internet, you get mixed messages around whether boosting posts is worth it. I see lots of people doing that. Is boosting posts more of a starter tool or something you should eventually grow out of? What's your thinking on that?

Andy  37:48  
It's a great question - I get this one all the time. The boost post feature was actually the original way to market on Facebook. You could post on your wall, and that posting on your wall had, like, amazing see-through rates in terms of who was seeing it and your fans. Then they said, "How can we monetize the business? How can we create advertisements that people can purchase?" So they created the boosted posts tool as a way to say, "What is the easiest and most straightforward way for people to be able to promote this particular post? You just click boost. It's right under the post and you extend it." Now what has changed, moving forward or where we're at now, with boosted posts is they have added some capabilities in there. But boosting a post is really just that as what it used to be. You're actually boosting or extending the visibility of a Facebook post on your wall. What's on your wall currently right now is getting anywhere from 1% to 2% of your total Facebook audience seeing your posts, which is very low, so you kind of have to boost a post to get it out to people unless it's a viral type of post. You're extending what's already on your Facebook wall. So that could be an advertisement. You could have posted an advertisement then you extend that - just understand that's what a boosted post is - whereas a Facebook ad is created inside of Facebook Ads Manager. It's not seen on your wall, so it doesn't show up on your Facebook wall. It's not going to show up anywhere on your wall at any point in time, but it does show up in other people's feeds and in different placements. So I would say a great usage of the Facebook boosted post tool is to extend the post that you put up on your page to your audience that you want to see. It doesn't necessarily have to be an ad. If there's maybe potentially a new sponsorship that you just pulled in or race information like a course change that you want people to know about and you want your whole audience to see it, I would boost that post because, once again, that's something that lives on our wall that we're trying to get out to more people. That's typically how we use that tool. Now, can you use it for an ad? Absolutely. It does have the ability to use a conversion-based ad. You can select an objective and say, "I want to drive sales from this post." And if you've never done any marketing on Facebook, then I would still recommend that you would start there because it is the easiest way to do it. So a lot of people that haven't done it, I would start there. I'd rather have you get started there because I know there's a chance that you'll continue to improve the skill sets inside. So that is the best place to start.

Panos  40:36  
So then, for instance, going back to the example we mentioned earlier about an early bird ad, you would very likely put out an early bird organic post on your Facebook feed. Do you think it's okay, then, perhaps, to just boost that post rather than go and create a separate early bird pricing ad through Facebook Ads Manager?

Andy  40:59  
It just depends on how much experience that you have in marketing in Facebook and how much budget that you have to spend in there. So if you are a new marketer inside of Facebook or you haven't done much of any ad spend, yes, I would start there. That's as simple as you can get and you should start there, and it'll allow you to get rolling. Now, if you have a little bit more experience or you're looking for more opportunities to reach a larger audience, or you're looking for an opportunity to create different types of ads like carousels, slideshows, and videos, all in combination together, then that's when you move over to Facebook Ads Manager because Facebook Ads Manager lets you do just that. The difference between the two is our ads manager allows you to create different creative options like carousel ads, slideshow ads, Canvas ads, and video ads. They let you create them for different mobile devices and different formats - Instagram stories - and sizing. It allows you to create it for different targeting groups like half marathon, 10K, 5K, or a combination of, and they provide you more objectives like conversions and video views and awareness. So if you're wondering, the Facebook Ads Manager is kind of the Tesla of options, where there are a lot of different options and things that you can do to really get the most out of your dollar, whereas the boosted post is kind of the trustee vehicle, it's still fast, it's still gonna get you there, but it's limited in its ability to get the most from your budget and it's best to use boosted posts to just extend posts that are already on your wall.

Panos  42:51  
Okay, I think that's a great segue to take a closer look at some of those aspects of Facebook Ads Manager. When you go on Facebook Ads Manager, the first thing when you create a new ad campaign, as you mentioned, is picking an objective. Actually, we should say, in case people stumble into this episode six months or a year from now, Facebook is notorious for switching things around all the time on Facebook Ads Manager and adding stuff and renaming things. So if you happen to listen to this and you go on Facebook Ads Manager and some of these options are not there directly or not in this kind of exact way, then there's going to be something similar to this. So campaign objectives-- there are a few of them that people use. You can have an objective to drive traffic. You can have an objective to drive conversions. Then, there are more primitive - in the sense of simpler - kinds of objectives like driving engagement. What is the difference briefly between those? And when should people use each of those in different cases?

Andy  43:53  
Yeah. So when you're trying to drive sales, you want to focus on the conversions objective. 80% to 90% of the campaigns that we run for customers are focused on that objective because we're trying to do just that. Now, does that mean that that's what you should do? No, not necessarily. Our agency is called EventGrow, so we're hyper-focused on growth for folks and getting people to sign up. Typically, in most cases, if that's what you're trying to do, the objective that you want to choose for your campaign is conversions. What Facebook will do is when you select that objective, they'll actually show it to people that have a higher propensity to sign up. So it's important that you do choose that and you don't choose something like reach or awareness or consideration if you're actually trying to drive sales. The second objective could be awareness, maybe, if you're trying to get to new customers and you're trying to broaden the reach of the message to more people. For example, if you're a new event, awareness would be really good. If you are an existing event but you'd have, let's say, your 20th anniversary year, awareness could be a good objective to choose to reach a larger group of people and get your message out there because you might be saying, "Well, what's our goal here?" Well, our goal is obviously to drive sales but our other goal is to, kind of, make sure people know what we're doing with this new thing or event or anniversary. So awareness or even reach could be two good objectives you would use to try to get that out to a larger group of people - not necessarily people that would buy, but people that would consider buying in the next 4, 6, or 8 months before your event date.

Panos  45:42  
And I guess it might also depend on where exactly in the funnel you're targeting. For a top-of-funnel campaign, when you're trying to get more people to discover your event, would you use a conversion objective for that or more traffic or reach or engagement type of objective?

Andy  46:03  
I would use traffic reach or brand awareness - probably reach or traffic. We had the most success with reach and traffic, o I would start with those if you're trying to drive as many people as possible into your website, into maybe over to your email list, or email list signup form, or something of that nature. What I would start with is reach or traffic.

Panos  46:29  
Ok, so you spent the money on Facebook Ads and got a good number of new people coming through to your website. Now, it’s time for your website to convert those people into paying race participants. 

One of the big big ways you can help your chances in that is boosting your website’s social proof, which is something we discussed with Andy in our previous podcast on marketing psychology. Basically, this means showing people coming to your site why other people like them loved your race.

And there is no better way to do that than using Racecheck’s Review Box widget. 

With your Racecheck Review Box you can showcase all your glowing race reviews from Racecheck’s industry-leading race reviews database directly on your website. You get to instantly share with incoming visitors all that’s awesome about your race and why your past participants loved your event. And by showing these glowing race reviews right at the point where people take an interest in your race, you can increase your website registrations by a massive 22%. That’s a lot of participants to miss out on.

And you don’t have to, because downloading and installing your Racecheck Review Box is absolutely free. That’s right - all you have to do is head over to, and you’ll be able to download your free Racecheck Review Box today giving your race website the instant social proof boost it needs.

Total no brainer - free widget, more registrations for you.

Ok, now, let’s get back to the episode…

Although we're going to be talking a lot more also in our second part of this podcast around retargeting and some of the technology that's required to make that possible, we should also note, at this point, I guess, that in order to run a conversions objective, you need to also have some infrastructure on your landing page and website to be able to support this because, for Facebook to know a conversion has occurred, there needs to be some infrastructure on the other end. I've seen lots of people, for instance, even for sales campaigns-- when they can't use conversions - because they don't have Pixel installed or stuff like that - they use traffic as a kind of second-best option.

Andy  48:46  
Right. Yeah, that's a good point - we'll talk about that in the next one, like you said - but none of these objectives actually work unless you have the Facebook Pixel set up. The Facebook Pixel is so important. In fact, if you don't have it properly set up, a lot of this just doesn't work. Facebook doesn't quite know what type of customer you're trying to go after. So the Facebook Pixel allows us to understand not only who converted from the ad, but it also allows us to understand who the customer is, which then in turn reduces our cost to acquire that customer on Facebook. So it's going to impact the dollar and it's going to impact your ability to measure this stuff. So yeah, we'll have to have that appropriately applied. The good news is it's very easy to do, very quick and easy to apply that Pixel to your pages.

Panos  49:36  
And we'll get into that, as you said a bit later in our next podcast - we're going to go into a lot more detail on that. For the time being, let's keep it a little bit high-level, particularly for people who are a little bit newer to Facebook Ads. After you choose an objective, the next thing - and this is a structure that Facebook has followed for a while so I expect it won't change anytime soon - is how you actually build out your ad. The first step is you build a campaign, and that campaign then has ad sets. Then, each of those ad sets can include any number of ads, which is the final thing that people see on their feed. For people - and I probably include myself in that still - who get a little bit confused between what should even be my naming convention or, like, my high-level approach to what the difference is between a campaign, an ad set, and an ad, how would you describe it? Basically, how do those three things come together?

Andy  50:36  
Yeah. So when we're talking about this stuff, we're talking about Facebook Ads Manager. We're not talking about boosted posts. Boosted posts, don't have a campaign structure. Like I said, with boosted post, you're just promoting a post that's already on your page. There's one ad. There's one set of copy. There's one audience. Boost and go. Facebook Ads mMnager, however, as I mentioned before, has different abilities to add different creatives and you can add different sets of copy and test that copy against each other. I can add in a video and a photo and all these different things. So when you think about the campaign structure, at the high level, everything lives inside of one campaign. Let's use an example. I'm going to call it, and I title it typically, the race year - 2022 - and then I say the campaign name, September 18, price increase, and then I say the objective, which is conversion. So the way we title our campaigns is literally that. It's year, campaign name, price increase, date of price increase, and then objective conversions. And then I hit "Start campaign" or-- no, sorry - "Build campaign". The first thing it'll ask you is "What is the campaign and what's the objective?" So that's the high level, all right? Now, one step under that is ad sets. Ad sets is essentially your audiences. So you can create different sets of audiences. So let's say, my ad set number one, I'm going to call it my retargeting ad set, and I'm going to add people in that ad set that are people that have previously visited my website or looked at a video from last year that I put out on Facebook or recently interacted with my Facebook page. So that's ad set number one. Ad Set number two is going to be new customers - people that don't know who I am. Then, a third ad set could be something completely different or a lookalike audience or something like that. So you can see ad sets are simply audiences, groups that you're building, and you want to test different groups. So I want to test these three different groups and I want to see which ones perform. So that's the mid-level. There's a little bit more to that, but that's the basics of it. Then, lower than that, inside of each ad set, are our ads. I can add an image ad into my retargeting ad set. I can add a video. I can add a carousel. I want to test different ads. So I can put as many different ads in there and I can test them out. So from the top down, it's campaigns, ad sets or audiences, and then the ads that are respective to those particular ad sets, and that's the structure that you follow. Literally, how you create a campaign is you start that with campaign, ad set, and then ads.

Panos  53:40  
And for ad sets and ads - and for campaigns actually, for that matter - you can also sort of duplicate those. Let's say you have an ad in an ad set and you want to add it to another ad set, you don't need to create this from scratch. I mean, you can probably just take it, copy it, and Facebook is gonna land it into another ad set you may choose. So you don't have to repeat all that work.

Andy  54:01  
Yeah, it's a great time saver, Panos. You just duplicate the ad set, you change some of the parameters, and it saves you a bunch of time of having to do it manually.

Panos  54:10  
Then at the ad set level, there are a couple of things that people are curious about and they've mentioned in the group. There are a few things that you configure at the ad set level. One of them is audience - as you said, and we're going to get into that in a sec - and the other one is ad placements. So you mentioned earlier that when you run campaigns on Facebook, you can actually also, for instance, show your ads on Instagram, you can show your ads on Facebook Messenger, which is now a completely different app, and you can show your ads in what Facebook calls the Audience Network, which is sort of, like, third party sites. The first option you face there is whether you want your placements to be automatic, which Facebook basically chooses to show your ad pretty much everywhere or whether you actually want to tweak which of those subsets of places your ad is gonna show to. Should people stick with automatic placements from your experience? Are there parts of those placements that don't work particularly well in some cases and should be taken out? Should they be targeting Messenger? Should they be using the Audience Network? Do you have any thoughts on that?

Andy  55:24  
Yeah. What we're talking about now - if you're following along and even if you're creating an ad in Facebook Ads Manager - is actually starting exactly at the top where we create a campaign. The next place you're going to see after it asks your campaign objective - conversions, website traffic - is "Do you want to add automatic or manual placements?" The answer almost always is automatic placements. Why? Because automatic placements is what Facebook uses. What they'll do is they'll automatically optimise the size, formats, and placements of where they put the ad that are performing the best. For example, they're showing the ad on Messenger, they're showing it on Instagram, they're showing it on Facebook, and they have a bunch of places besides the Facebook newsfeed that we're all used to where the ad shows up. Some of those placements perform better than others. So when you choose automatic placements, you're saying, "Facebook, here's my creatives - my image, my video, my story. Put it where it's going to sell." And Facebook says, "Gotcha." So they spread it out. They figure out where it sells best and then they show it in that place. Like, why wouldn't you want that? So yeah, I would say almost nearly 100% of folks should be choosing that option. The only thing I'll say about manual placements is if you have so much data to indicate that-- let's say a Facebook story is what's getting the most sales for you, you could create a manual campaign and just put it in that spot, but I still would probably advise against that because it requires a lot of data and confidence for that case.

Panos  57:06  
So you shouldn't think too hard about "Maybe I'm wasting money showing ads on Audience Network or on Messenger or whatever" because you're saying Facebook and their algorithm are going to figure that out and turn off all of those placements, essentially, that don't work because their objective is to deliver the most cost-efficient returns for you, and they're going to be showing their ads where you get results.

Andy  57:30  
Yeah. I mean, I would say, if it's a brand new advertiser, I would use automatic placements - hands down. If you're an advertiser that spent a decent amount of money, the next level-up advice would be to look at the automatic placements that are performing really well and then start to upload those. But either way, you still want to use automatic placements. Like I said, until you get enough data to show that a specific ad format is performing, then that's when I maybe might move over to manual placements. But even then, things are changing so often that we're still using automatic placements for all of our clients.

Panos  58:09  
And another thing at that same kind of level, when you build the campaign-- another option that Facebook offers that lots of people go for and, I guess, Facebook added to make your results more efficient and also to help you speed things up a little bit in terms of creating ads is Dynamic Creatives. Can you maybe take a minute to explain to people what that is and how it works and whether you would recommend people using it? If there are cases where they should be using it, what are those cases?

Andy  58:40  
I think a lot of people should be using this. Basically, the Dynamic Creative, kind of, has the same components of a Facebook ad - image, video, title, description - and it automatically generates optimised combinations based upon those components. For example, when you create a dynamic creative, it's going to ask you, "Okay, can you please upload multiple images, videos, copies, titles, and descriptions? What we'll do is we'll create combinations for you, and then put those up and then figure out which one does best." So for a lot of people, this is going to be a great thing to use because they don't maybe necessarily have to be as active with creating different variations on their own inside of Facebook or creating several different ad combos. As an agency, we're doing that already, but for most people that aren't agencies that don't have enough time to do that, I would use Dynamic Creatives because you upload, let's say, three different headlines for your ad, maybe three different images, maybe two different descriptions, and say "Facebook, go figure out which combo works." That's basically what's happening. "Then, optimise and use that combo." So it's actually quite powerful if you think about it. I mean, this is ads moving closer to AI - talk about kind of hands off a little bit. This is moving towards that Dynamic Creatives. So I would definitely test this out. We've done this with a lot of our clients too, and it's worked pretty well.

Panos  1:00:13  
So this is sort of doing, like, a multivariate split AB testing type of thing, but it's a lot easier to create because, as you said, if you have three images and three subject lines and two descriptions of something, that is, like, a near 20 variations or something, and you don't want to be creating 20 ads. So basically, you tell Facebook, "Here are the raw materials for my subject lines. Here are my descriptions. Here are my images. You find the combination that works best."

Andy  1:00:42  
Yeah. The work is at the front end. It might seem like more work at first, but you're actually saving yourself a bunch of time because if you can just create three versions of your ad - meaning three images, three copy headlines, and maybe even just two descriptions - then you can upload that in and they'll do the work for you and the optimization along the way. Whereas the opposite approach would be you create all three of those different variations, and then add those into Facebook, then you manually look and see which ones are performing better, and you kind of move things around that way. So this is a much better way to spend your time, I think, on Facebook to get the most from your dollar.

Panos  1:01:21  
I guess the one downside, maybe, with Dynamic Creatives is that you don't get to see which combination actually performs the best. Is that right? You don't have direct data on which combination of those is the optimal one.

Andy  1:01:41  
I don't think it's as clear as it would be for the opposite approach of just doing it inside of a non-dynamic creative where you create different ad combinations yourself. No.

Panos  1:01:51  
So let's move on to targeting, which is a huge part of the success you might get out of Facebook ads - understanding and doing this well. Basically, Facebook offers a couple of different ways to target people and retarget people, which we're going to get into in the next podcast. One of the most common ones that people use is interest-based targeting and demographics-based targeting. Basically, Facebook knows a bunch of stuff about its users - age, location, a bunch of other stuff, and some of their interests - and you can choose to target people that way. In terms of those, basically, levers that Facebook provides at the audience targeting stage, what are good choices for targeting runners, for instance, who would be likely to sign up for a race? So basically, your target audience-- how would you use those options to target that for a top-of-funnel cold audience? They don't know about your race. You're running an ad to get people to see your ad. How would you target those people using interests and demographics?

Andy  1:03:02  
Well, first thing before you ever get into Facebook Ads Manager, I would pull together a report of what geographic area do people historically register from for your event. So where do people live that sign up for your event? Now, you might think you know or have that in your head, which is fine. I just validate that against the most recent history - three to five years - of your event and I put that on the list. So I create a few states. Sometimes, no matter where it is, you look at your areas that are the highest concentration of registrations, and then you start to move outwards. You come up with a list - say, people who are generally from this area sign up for my event. Then you might create a few travelling countries or states - for some of our events, it's Mexico - and we'll add that to the list as a targeting demographic. So now you know where your people are from. Now also, go do that for their age. How old are people? Is there an age group that we can rule out here? Is 70 plus not really an age of people that sign up or, conversely, 18-and-under - or, like, 20-and-under maybe - is just a non-starter for us, so we're going to rule that out. So you've created a geographic location list and you've created an age list. That's the starting point for an ad that's going to be targeting people in that area and in that age. That's the first thing I would do. So now, I'm inside of Facebook and it asks us those two things. Create a geographic fence around the areas you want to target. Number two, what's the age of these folks? All right. So when you add that information in now, the next option is interest targeting - what are these people interested in that I want to use as a targeting metric? There are a lot of different things you can use but I would say the first few that we use are category-based interests - these are the obvious ones. If it's running, we're gonna choose half marathon - let's say, it's a half marathon - 5K, 10K. I believe road running is a big one on Facebook, We're gonna select. So those would be category-based. Then, we're gonna go to some high-level interest stuff like We're going to pick some larger brands-specific, running-specific companies. And then the last thing that you can do that's interesting is you can do some city selection. For example, you can select your city and that city typically will turn up, so that can help with some additional geographic targeting. Sometimes, there are people that don't live in that city anymore, but have an affiliation or an affinity to that city from the past. So if they've moved, but they still love London, they might travel back to London. So we like to choose that as well as an additional targeting topic. Then the last one is easy - select the biggest marathon near you. A lot of your competitors - if they have large enough Facebook audiences - you can actually select them as a targeting interest. So London Marathon could be selected as a targeting interest, whereas your event might not be able to because it just didn't reach a certain size of Facebook fans. But I would select the large events that are near you and I would target their interest base as well. So that's kind of how I would organise a campaign on Facebook and I'd use all that information to get a really kind of good Facebook ad.

Panos  1:06:35  
And you're saying you would actually, in a single ad set and a single audience, combine all of those together. So basically, you want people who are in any of those categories? 

Andy  1:06:48  
Yeah, it's important to have all three of those set up because if I didn't set up the interests, then it's just going to target people of that age in that area, no matter what they like. I'm not interested in that because I want to know that they're interested in half marathons, and they live in London, and they're 18, or 20, or 25.

Panos  1:07:08  
Yeah. Because I guess, high level, what you're trying to do here has a broad enough audience - like a broad enough pool of people - that Facebook can target and experiment on and find the people who are going to convert in, but don't dilute that audience down enough. So you're basically showing ads to people that have no realistic chance of converting and signing up for your race.

Andy  1:07:34  
Yeah, you're trying to cast the net that is as wide as possible but also as targeted as possible. So there's a fine balance there. When you create those geographic locations and you create that age range, I would allow your age range to be pretty broad because I don't want to single people out or-- let's say the 24 to 34 category is not a huge participation area. I'm not going to just take that out because it only represents 12% of your audience. I'm still going to market to those people. I would just create the range at the top end and the bottom end. The geographic cities, as I said, are based on historical data. So you want to use the cities and areas where people are signing up from and maybe you could extend that a few miles outside of those to try to drive to more people. But what really allows you to reach the largest amount of people in those two areas is the interest addition. So when you add half marathon and 10K and 5K and running, I usually go around four or five of those, and then you add some of those other categories. That's what allowing you to kind of get to the runner in that list versus the guy that likes carpentry or something that lives in those areas. So the last icing there is the interests themselves - that's what you need to add in there to really get to that particular runner.

Panos  1:08:59  
Yeah. And you mentioned that beyond just specifying interests around running, you will also get some interest in there that would also try to target racers more so than runners - having an interest in half marathons or having an interest in your local high-profile marathon or something like that. Can you improve on that perhaps or, like, tweak it a little bit by looking at income demographics or other behavioural kinds of interests like people who travel or stuff like that?

Andy  1:09:32  
You can, Yeah, I'd say the larger events are going to be doing that - that have the data to do that and the budget to be able to test it. We're doing that with only our larger clients but, for the vast majority of folks, I wouldn't delve too much into that. I would leave it rather broad.

Panos  1:09:48  
And an excellent point you make that I think people should take note of is how do you determine the age group and the location and stuff. If you have a race, if your race has run in the past, you'd look at your actual participants and you'd want to be finding people who are similar to the people that signed up. I guess, if it's your inaugural race, if you haven't done that race before, would maybe Facebook Insights for your Facebook page followers or maybe even Google Analytics data help? Or would you like to look at an event like that as a proxy? How would you approach that if you don't have the actual participant data to figure that out?

Andy  1:10:30  
Yeah, that's where I would look. I would look at my website traffic. Google can give you a representation of the people that are visiting your site and you can create some understanding of the ages and the locations of those visitors. That would create a data point for me. I would, in addition, look to similar events and I would look to surveys and things that RunSignup and Running USA these organisations put together to create what I believe is a similar customer base. Then, probably most importantly is - I see this a lot - people will just, like, over target. They'll, like, create too narrow of an audience based upon the perfect fit that they believe is the case. I've done this before myself, and I think that's a mistake. I think what you want to do is you want to be even just a little bit more slightly broad and you want to include what you know, for sure, would be the interest that would people are interested in - it could just be four or five, it doesn't need to be 10, 20, or 15. If you're wondering if I'm over targeting, and you're saying, "Okay, I only want to target people in this geographic location or maybe extended a little further out to give Facebook the ability and opportunity to reach more people", you can always hone that back down. So when you're first starting, you want to cast a slightly wider net and then get the data back and understand who's in that net, and then start to hone in that way. But yeah, you could use Google Analytics' industry data or industry information from those other players to create a customer profile for yourself in advance.

Panos  1:12:03  
Yeah, I think that's actually an excellent point - what you mentioned there around how wide of a net you need to cast and how to balance the casting of a broad enough net that gets you the right people and allows Facebook some room to run its algorithms versus being very specific because what you're doing with targeting is, say, looking in that broad area but you want to give Facebook the flexibility and the room to then optimise further with its algorithms and it knows a lot more about users than you might be able to specify through your targeting, to pick the right people from that pool. So it's a little bit of an art. You don't want to be showing your ad to the whole of, like, US 18-plus runners or something. So you want to narrow it down, but you don't want to narrow it down, as you said too much.

Andy  1:12:54  
Yeah. The perfect rule of thumb for, like, a small-to-medium size event would be to really take a look at your data, see those geographic areas and use those areas and your age ranges in your audience because if you start to try to go outside and say, "Well, we want to market to different states", you're going to pay for impressions in an area that has a very low chance of signup, which is going to increase your ad cost and, probably, not create a great experience for you in Facebook when you're getting a one or point five return on your dollar on ad spend. Focus on the area you know people are going to come from if you're a small event or a medium sized event. You're going to get a much better return that's going to allow you to make sure the impressions you're paying for in your neighbourhood, so to speak-- and you can slightly extend it out maybe 25-50 miles beyond those areas, which it will allow you to do, but I wouldn't go too far outside of that. Then, I'd add those interests that I mentioned. I think that's probably gonna be the best place for you to start with your Facebook ads.

Panos  1:14:00  
And I know we sort of touched on this before when we're discussing targeting more broadly, but we got a question from one of our group members - I want to make sure we go over this and just specifically wrap this up. Mike Clark, in the group, asked, "What are the best ways to target runners in a specific city?" You mentioned that some cities now show up also as an interest, but if someone came to you and they said, "We're running a race in-- let's pick like a mid-sized city somewhere in the States", how would you go about targeting a specific audience of runners in that city?

Andy  1:14:36  
My first question would be "Why are we just targeting just that city?" I would come back to the data. I would think about and look at the data to see-- but let's just say, for example, it's a large city with a large amount of people in the city enough for me just to target that city. However, I very rarely would just target a city. I would target a city and the surrounding cities. But if we just wanted to target the city, then I would make sure that we add geographic targeting or in that particular city, maybe add a few miles of distance around that geofence, and then make sure that my other targeting metrics are set like age and stuff like that, and then I would add-- at a minimum, I would add in my category specific interests like we mentioned for a running event - maybe it's half marathon, 5K, 10K, and road running - and then I would hit go.

Panos  1:15:26  
I guess you're saying that even if you start from the point of wanting to put a race in a specific city, you would extend the geographic reach of your ads beyond that city? 

Andy  1:15:38  
Yeah, absolutely. The idea is that the geofence around just the city-- you want to extend that geographic targeting almost at all times to just the outlying areas around that city. Facebook gives us the ability to do that. I think it's wise to do that and to be able to extend that ad to people who are probably likely interested as well because if it's right next to the city, then it's kind of part of just the outlying area. So that's what I would do. Then, like I said, you can always hone that back in. You can always say, "Okay, the next optimization we're just going to do now is just the city - inner city area versus the other way around." I think it's better to start a little broader, and then work back in.

Panos  1:16:18  
And another question we got from the group, which is targeting past participants. I think we're going to be talking a little bit more about that in part two of this podcast. But do you want to give people, like, a quick answer and teaser as to how you would target past participants?

Andy  1:16:33  
Yeah, that's a good one. You create a custom audience. You can create custom audiences on Facebook and what I would do is you can upload an email list - CSV file, Excel file - of the customer lists that you have. Facebook will match those customers and say, "Hey, we have these folks here that we have there on Facebook and here are their accounts." It doesn't actually give us their accounts, but it allows us to surface an ad to them. So yeah, you can upload those as an email list, and then start to target them. Conversely, you can upload your already signed-up members and not target them because they're already signed up. So you can prevent people from seeing your ads that are already signed up, which will save you money as well. We can talk about that.

Panos  1:17:21  
Absolutely. And we are going to talk about that more in our next podcast - Facebook Ads Part 2. As I said at the top of the episode, we were supposed to be talking about ad creatives in this part, but seeing as we're already 80 minutes in, it probably makes sense to bump that into part two, which should be coming out in a couple of weeks. It's going to be our next episode. Before we sign off here. Please remind people where they can find a little bit more about you and EventGrow in the meantime.

Andy  1:17:49  
Yeah, just send me an email. You can send it to me, or And you can check out our website, I'm always interested in and up to talk to folks about how we can help them grow their event, whether it's through ads, emails, or optimising their website. And I'm always happy to just share any information I think can help you out even if we don't work together. I've been in the industry for a while and I love helping people out, so reach out.

Panos  1:18:18  
You mentioned also RACEPLACE, by the way, there. Tell people a little bit about RACEPLACE as well. 

Andy  1:18:21  
Yeah, it's a race calendar. It's one of the top race calendars in the United States. By traffic measures, it gets about 200,000 visitors per month to the site. So if you're looking to add your event to a race calendar, it's a great one to do. We also have marketing. We also have an email list and you can mark it on that list. It's free to get on the website, so add your event, check it out, and get it up there. If you're in the US and you're looking to try to market your event and you want to use our email list, you can reach out to We'll be happy to chat with you.

Panos  1:18:51  
It is an awesome race calendar - I said that in the previous episode where you were on. People should list the races on RACEPLACE. It has a great design, lots of reads, and it's free, so people should put their events up there, or we can do it for them because we have a service that also puts events on there. Andy, it's been amazing and super helpful. I look forward to our part two, where we're going to be digging into more advanced topics - including ad creatives, which we didn't touch on today - and we're also going to be looking at budgeting, very important, monitoring performance and steering your ads once they're launched, which is also very important, and retargeting, which we're gonna be talking a lot more around custom audiences and targeting past participants or people who engage with other ads you may have shown to them. Until then, I want to thank you again for your time. It's been awesome. And thank you very much to everyone listening in. We'll see you in a couple of weeks for Facebook Ads Part 2. See you there!

Panos  1:19:56  
I hope you enjoyed today’s part one of our Facebook Ads special with EventGrow CEO, Andy Reilly. 

You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website You can also share your questions on race marketing or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

Many thanks again to our awesome podcast sponsors RunSignup and Racecheck for sponsoring today’s episode. And don’t forget that there’s a part two of our Facebook Ads podcast coming out right after this episode. 

Until that next episode, coming out in a couple of weeks, take care and keep putting on amazing races.

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